Croatia: Transition from Communism Must Accommodate Prosecution of Communist Crimes

“If some groups of victims are considered less worthy, it means that the racist ideology still lives on,” said Rosetta Katz, a Holocaust survivor in Parliament of Germany on Friday 27 January 2023, International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day, which marked the first time, after many years of lobbying, German parliament has focused in annual Holocaust memorial commemorations on people persecuted and killed for their LGBTQ or gender identity by the National Socialism regime.

It’s a pity that such great words are not understood or accepted to apply globally to victims of communism as well.  In view of the terrifying list of crimes committed in the name of promoting geopolitical supremacy by all warring sides during World War II and after it, every condemnation of crimes committed in the name of the theory of class struggle and the principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat seems justified. It would appear to be equally justified to put the perpetrators of communist crimes on trial before the international community, as it was the case with the terrible crimes of National Socialism, i.e., Holocaust.

But once one says that and means it, respecting all victims of crimes, the wretched and derogatory label of Historical Revisionism is slapped onto one to intimidate and bully those engaging in research efforts to bring out the facts of history and equal respect all victims of all totalitarian regimes. One class of victims, hence, in the eyes of the world, becomes worthier than the other. For lasting peace and prosperity in the world the crimes in the name of communism should be assessed as crimes against humanity in the same way Nazi crimes were assessed by the Nuremberg Tribunal. Legal provisions should be introduced that would enable courts of law to judge and sentence perpetrators of Communist crimes and to compensate victims of Communism. But victims of communism largely remain anonymous, faceless, without personal photographs, just piles of skulls and rotting bones in pits, mass graves or piled up into walls of remembrance.

History is undeniably part of an individual and collective awareness and creates identity. It serves to affirm one’s own norms and values, to legitimise rule and claims to leadership, and to develop perspectives for the future. But when that history such as Croatia’s World War II one has been written and kept on life support by the communists with evident help of political aims among the Allies who won the War and when that history has been proven over and over again that it contains significant fabrications in order to justify the communist Yugoslavia enormous crimes against its political opponents then it is our obligation to pursue research and revision of that unjust written history.

“Croatia has to face the culture of remembering that is different from what we would like. We are Europeans now. We have integrated firmly into Europe, which is wonderful news, but mentally we have not entered it. You with the Ustashiade simply cannot go further than Brezice (a small town in Slovenia near the Croatian border). That doesn’t work in Europe. Liberal Europe does not accept Croatia like this,” concluded historian and former communist Yugoslavia fan Ivo Goldstein concluded in his address for the Croatian media the day leading up to the Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day 2023.

Evidently, whether of Jewish heritage, like Goldstein, or not, former communists and those who follow in their mental footsteps today in Croatia fail miserably to acknowledge and accept with open arms the liberal Europe they boast of belonging to. It’s a double standard nobody should tolerate. The Liberal Europe Goldstein refers to had ever since 2009 condemned by parliamentary declaration both the Communist and the Fascist regimes (to which the WWII Ustashe regime is arguably erroneously allocated) because of the totalitarian cloth they wrapped themselves in. For comparison’s sake the communist Yugoslavia murdered or exterminated many more innocent people than what the Ustashe regime did. But, it seems, to people like Goldstein, the term Holocaust holds much more weight for human condemnation and repugnance than what communist crimes do. This is, of course, a catastrophe for humanity as it classifies victims not by their suffering but by their ethnicity, religion, or political leanings. And so, in the case of WWII and post-WWII Croatia, victims of communist purges and exterminations appear insignificant to people like Goldstein, but victims of the Holocaust are significant.

The crux of the matter is that the Ustashe regime fought for independence of Croatia from any Yugoslav conglomerate and the communists fought for a third Yugoslavia (the first two being kingdoms of Yugoslavia ruled by the Serbian oppressive and dictatorial Monarchy). And Yugoslav communists or their indoctrinated descendants evidently loathe the fact that Croats fought for self-determination and independence during WWII. Hence, a clear reason why they keep spinning the lie that they freed or liberated Croatia in 1945! Liberated from whom? Its own people who wanted independence and fought for that in the most difficult of circumstances in the history of the 20th century? In fact, they forced the Croatian people who wanted independence back to a Yugoslavia that took revenge against the Croatian patriots and murdered so many that Yugoslavia’s Josip Broz Tito has been placed on the list of “Top” 15 mass murderers of political opponents of the 20th Century.

Furthermore, it is evident that the more the facts of WWII Croatian history are uncovered and the more these facts show that the history of WWII Croatia written by the communists of Yugoslavia and their allies (including in relation to the numbers of Jews and others perished under the blanket of the Holocaust) who won the War was alarmingly falsified and fabricated, obviously for political dominance reasons and for social engineering communist Yugoslavia practiced, the more we experience people like Goldstein regurgitating the worn-out and intentionally intimidating term of the so-called historical revisionism. Historical revisionism should have positive connotations because it seeks to either prove as correct the historical records published so far or to disprove them as blatant politically motivated lies. Perhaps Goldstein and those like him in these matters harbour a sense of dread and fear that “their” history books will end up in trash bins or in bon fires across the world!?

There must be a politically “strong” reason why Ivo Goldstein, when he was the Ambassador of Croatia to France 2012-2017, kept a portrait of former communist Yugoslavia President Josip Broz Tito on his Embassy office walls.

Did this practice mean that Goldstein did not and does not accept the independence of Croatia from communist Yugoslavia for which terrible price in Croatian blood was paid amidst Yugoslav Army and Serb aggression in early 1990’s? While there were complaints to the Croatian government about this photo of Tito on Croatia’s Embassy walls from Croats living in France the best the communist bent government of Croatia could reply was that there was no law in Croatia forbidding the hanging of pictures on the wall! The eradication of succinct lines of communist mindset and practice in official Croatia has a long way to go yet.

The opening of State Archives after Croatia seceded from communist Yugoslavia in 1991 is indeed bearing fruits that have the potential of exonerating to a great extent the WWII Independent State of Croatia of many crimes and victim numbers that have been peddled to the world against it for over seventy years!  The more the credible research into facts and archival documents of WWII Croatia reveals a completely different truth, the actual truth, to the one peddled for decades, Goldstein and those like him seem to waffle on increasingly about anti-Semitism in Croatia, as well as accusations of relativising Ustasha crimes through historical revisionism, i.e., through archival research! These kinds of public outbursts are akin to attempts to intimidate and suppress the factual truth from coming out.

Leading contemporary historians and researches into WWII Croatia, including factual victim numbers and rescue of the Jews, have been several and it is worthwhile mentioning some in this article whose work has attracted much public interest even if the Croatian government  remains largely and unfairly uninterested in such facts of history that have been denied for decades : Esther Gitman, Roman Leljak, Blanka Matkovic, Stipo Pilic, and Igor Vukic,  

“Ustasheism and historical revisionism have been coming at us from all sides for the past eight years,” Goldstein said in his public statement last week, failing miserably to reveal the indisputable outcomes of historical research that has been conducted in the past decade that more and more place his historical writings under severely unsafe historical records which cannot be trusted by those pursuing justice for all victims of state war and post-war crimes. It would appear apparent that he has personal interests in speaking against research or revision of written history and Ustashe regime of WWII Croatia. He has announced a new book he is writing on Historical Revisionism, and one must wonder how much of historical and general tripe, concoctions of biased personal views and biased content that book will have? If one is to judge from his past pro-communist agenda authoring works then Croatians, in readiness, need to keep their fingers pressed against the toilet flush button.  No historian on Croatia, on the need to revise historical records through factual research, who fails to condemn the communist regime after 94% of voters condemned it in 1991 Croatian referendum, who fails the victims of communist crimes while tagging the victims of Ustashe crimes with precious worth, is worth the embrace by the public as a truth-bearer or authority on history. Such a book Goldstein is announcing seems nothing more to me, and I believe to multitudes, than an opportunistic gimmick to “earn a buck” and a promotion as worthwhile and “to them glorious” the murderous communist regime of Yugoslavia, which European Union has included in its condemnations many years ago as criminal.

The constant distortion of history by keeping the fabricated historical facts alive, by devaluing historical research through labelling it as historical revisionism with relativisation does nothing for the fact that the radical left (especially communists and former communists still holding a candle for communism) just like the radical right also must come to terms with its own history in Croatia and elsewhere. Without such confrontation no lasting peace or absolute respect of human rights can be achieved.

What to remember and how to remember is, in Croatia as in many countries, a very topical and urgent question that keeps both historians and politicians occupied. It does not only concern schoolbooks and history teaching, but also the use of public space to represent history whether in the form of monuments, museums, mainstream media or otherwise. Often decisions of this kind lead to fierce political debates and they are certainly not limited to aesthetic values of monuments of past regimes, even the criminal ones. And the truth or revealing it without condemnation suffers. The politics of the past keeps haunting Croatia and without the removal of World War II touted communist contribution for an independent Croatia from the historical narrative preamble to the Constitution the hundreds of thousands of victims of communist crimes have no chance for deserved and due justice.  Ina Vukic

Croatia: Revisionism As Correction Of Recorded History

This first-ever report rating individual European Union countries on how they face up their Holocaust pasts was published on January 25, 2019 to coincide with UN Holocaust Remembrance Day. Researchers from Yale and Grinnell Colleges travelled throughout Europe to conduct the research. Representatives from the European Union of Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) have endorsed their work.

The fact that this Report omits to present any research on the topic relating to the candidate countries on the path to becoming EU member countries, such as Serbia, is quite a concern. One would expect that Serbia, which was among the first to declare itself “Judenfrei” (Jew-free) in Europe early 1942, would feature in this Report. But expectation for justice for all Holocaust victims in Europe is one thing and reality – another. Sadly.

The Key findings in the Report are as follows:

● Many European Union governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimising their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews.

● Revisionism is worst in new Central European members – Poland, Hungary, Croatia and Lithuania.

● But not all Central Europeans are moving in the wrong direction: two exemplary countries living up to their tragic histories are the Czech Republic and Romania. The Romanian model of appointing an independent commission to study the Holocaust should be duplicated.

● West European countries are not free from infection – Italy, in particular, needs to improve.

● In the west, Austria has made a remarkable turn-around while France stands out for its progress in accepting responsibility for the Vichy collaborationist government.

● Instead of protesting revisionist excesses, Israel supports many of the nationalist and revisionist governments.

As the world marks the United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, European governments are rehabilitating World War II collaborators and war criminals while minimising their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews.

This Holocaust Remembrance Project finds that Hungary, Poland, Croatia, and the Baltics are the worst offenders. Driven by feelings of victimhood and fears of accepting refugees, and often run by nationalist autocratic governments, these countries have received red cards for revisionism…

Revisionism is often accompanied by a revival of Nazi-inspired hate speech. Hungary’s right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban has described the arrival of asylum seekers in Europe as ‘a poison’, saying his country did not want or need ‘a single migrant’. Jaroslaw Kaczyński, head of Poland’s governing Law and Justice Party, has warned that migrants are ‘parasites’ that carry ‘very dangerous diseases long absent from Europe’. In the same vein, French right-wing extremist Marine Le Pen called for the ‘eradication of bacterial immigration’, proclaiming that immigration was causing an ‘alarming presence of contagious diseases’ in France. In his Mein Kampf, Hitler repeatedly refers to Jews as parasites,” 
says the Report.

Comparing today’s politicians’ views regarding mass migration into Europe to Adolf Hitler’s views, as this Report does, is in my view utterly irresponsible and wickedly conniving.

Letting that question alone for now and turning our attention to the term of “historical revisionism” we so frequently find in today’s world, we should all know that history is, in fact, never fixed or objective, but always a living document — one written by those who have or had power, who have access to the telling because the powers that be allow them that access.

Reading between the lines of the text, and the lines of the text, it would seem the authors of this Report fall among traditionalists of this world who believe that history is objective and once anyone seeks to better understand a person or the narratives of the past, those traditionalists shout “revisionism,” as if that new understanding (even new factual finding that contradicts recorded history) is something to be shunned.

Indeed, when it comes to Croatia and its WWII history regarding the numbers of victims of the Holocaust, all attempts at researching the truth, the facts via accessible archival materials, have sadly been branded revisionism. Needless to say, representatives of the Simon Wiesenthal Centres such as Efraim Zuroff, have and still hold the banner for such branding.

That any history written by the elite or powerful ones is objective and apolitical is a naïve but dangerous position; dangerous because it denies all victims justice and due recognition.

Controversy swirls over the wartime role of the Roman Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Zagreb Aloysius Stepinac has been accused of failing to condemn the Ustaša, yet at the same time credited with thousands of Serbs and Jews. The Church beatified him in 1998. Recent research by historians Robin Harris and Esther Gitman Stepinac show Stepinac as anti-Ustaša, a vocal critic of Ustaša racial theories, and a thorn at Pavelic’s side… Much of the issues in the media (in Croatia) revolve around Jasenovac and often reflect problematic revisionist thinking. After film director Jakov Sedlar created a revisionist documentary on Jasenovac in April 4,2016, Croatian state television HRT hosted Sedlar and did not challenge his claims,” says the Report.

Whether the Report omits to mention research on Jasenovac camp deaths of Igor Vukic and Roman Leljak, who use archival documentary evidence that significantly refutes the numbers of victims at WWII Jasenovac camp, on purpose in order to provide yet another lifeline to the unjust term of “revisionism” is a matter for each Report reader’s consideration. Notwithstanding, one cannot remain blind to facts; one can mar them for political gain, though.

One is compelled to conclude that such recent research and findings are labelled in this Report as “extreme sensitivity” rather than pinning the findings of such research as credible and worth pursuing (for historical truth) to the body of this Report. “Extreme sensitivity continues around the numbers of those murdered at the Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Serbs estimate 700,000 victims. More recent and objective findings, however, such as those of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, puts the number between 77,000 and 100,000. The numbers remain unclear and the subject of a genuine detect story. An independent commission, similar to Romania’s Weisel Commission, would help clarify,” says the Report.

Since the Report goes on to give some kind of credibility to what Serbs claim as estimates it is all the more incredulous and tendentious that the Report fails to address those claims further (as being utterly false or unfounded on facts). Indeed, the Report fails to address the Holocaust in WWII Serbia, which saw 94% of Serbia’s Jews exterminated by May 1942 at this time when Serbia is on the path to the EU membership and the authors of this Report obviously consider important for the EU as to which country in Europe is doing what regarding WWII Holocaust.

This kind of reporting or writing perfectly captures the reality of all history.

The great irony of slurring history with “revisionism” is that history as a living document should be a constant act of retelling history in an effort to make the story clearer, more accurate; revisionism is  not an erasing of history but a correction of the wrong presented in “officially” recorded history. A revised view of history allows us to acknowledge what is not debatable  ― many with power over Croatia in the past (Communists and their subscribers), were racists  ― and is essential for helping us resolve what is debatable (and the numbers of the so-called WWII Ustashe victims  have been the subject of painful debates, mere estimates dubbed as facts, and politically-driven intolerance),  whether or not we correct the victim figures, rename buildings/institutions or dismantle monuments.

There’s an old saying that time is the enemy of memory and ignorance is the enemy of knowledge. When the established knowledge based on estimates and other charades that misrepresent the truth are challenged by new findings then ignorance thrives and memories of victims often become banal or fade. It would seem that the usage of the negatively connoted concept of revisionism to characterise fact-finding attempts when it comes to history that includes the Holocaust contributes significantly to the views we come across throughout the world that the world is forgetting the horrors of the Holocaust. One could argue that if attempts to untangle the truth from the lies when it comes to the number of Jews that perished in the Holocaust are labelled as unwelcome revisionism – i.e. denial of the Holocaust – then indeed memory for even the recorded history must suffer; because doubt in the truthfulness of that recorded memory inevitably develops with every new factual finding or every attempt to correct historical records written by those in power.

We can remember those who perished and were murdered without talking about numbers! We can remember the Holocaust human catastrophe and pay respect to those who suffered without trying to embellish it with numbers that are subject to vigorous debates and rows. A human catastrophe is a catastrophe regardless of the number of victims it takes or took with it.

Memory is central to a nation’s historical and moral self-understanding. When unsafe historical records written by Yugoslav communists in the case of Croatia shape memory, then it is the duty of every Croat to ensure that history is corrected, otherwise the nation staggers on false and illusory ground which gives little if any justice to the actual victims of past totalitarian regimes. Ina Vukic

Buried Alive – Abyss of Communist Crimes

The enormity of communist crimes against Croatian people, part of the former Yugoslavia (WWII and post-WWII), is staggering, overwhelming, astonishing… utterly cruel and bestial. These crimes on the whole still go unpunished, ignored and covered up or justified particularly through today’s so-called antifascists labeling all attempts to muster up justice for the victims of communist crimes as ‘neofascism’!

Roman Leljak’s book “Huda Jama” (Huda Pit) about which I have written before has now been released in English. Its title is “Buried Alive – Mass Killings of POWs and Civilians by Tito’s Partisans” and it can be purchased online via several leading online bookstores.

In the Foreword of the book Roman Leljak writes:

“My research for this book started in the spring of 1989. When I look back on that period of my life now I cannot help but deeply appreciate Descartes’ maxim: ‘I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am’. Precious few people on the planet today would dare dispute the veracity of the proposition. In that sense I have to admit that until that fateful year of 1989 I had been living in ignorance. The Communist educational system was based on parroting state propaganda. I was not allowed to think. The system needed to produce intellectually challenged people in order to survive. Many of us remember those days well. The teacher would always start the class with the words: ‘Long live Yugoslavia.’ We would have to readily reply with: ‘With Tito forward!’ Many times I heard my father complain, ‘This country is slowly but surely destroying itself. We have to travel to Italy and Austria – countries where rotten capitalism rules – to buy clothes and fruit.’ I did not exactly understand what he was saying. Maybe I was too much of a coward to understand.

Dear reader! This is an expanded edition of the book I wrote back in 1989. It was published that same year in Yugoslavia in Slovenian. That year I started my collaboration with Janez Jansa, Igor Bavcar and many others who would later play an instrumental part in achieving independence for Slovenia.

I finished my first book, titled Alone against the World in the late ‘8os. At that time Janez Jansa was the editor in chief of the Znanost (Science) magazine and he published my book. The book deals with the methods, techniques and tactics used by Yugoslav Military Intelligence. In 1990 the book was translated into Croatian. Unfortunately, and in a sense inexplicably, it did not draw a lot of attention in Croatia. In Slovenia, on the other hand, the book is considered an important work of history, especially in the context of theTen-Day War.

Roman Leljak

I was born in the Croatian Zagorje region. My father Rudolf worked in the city of Krapina as a photographer and my mother Milica Belosevic worked in the Zutica textile factory. In 1964 my father got a job in the Ingrad construction company in Celje and we relocated to Slovenia. I was six months old at the time. We lived in the village of Prosenisko, near the town of Teharje. One spring day in 1989, in front of St. Anne’s Church in Teharje, I read again, mesmerized by the words, Ivanka Skrabec’s letter:

In a few hours my life will end.Oh dear God! You know I die innocent, just like your Son. My child, my gentle angel. How I long to see your face, graced with a smile, cheering me up and taking all the worries away! Oh my child, my gentle white flowers! I will not live to see your tiny white hands. I will not live to feel your tender embrace. I will never pull you close to my bosom, let you feel my heartbeat, even though you are so close, so very close to me. Never, my sweet child! Down yonder, in the darkforest’s grasp, we’ll will adorn our eternal home.

My lips will never sing a soft lullaby to you. I will be your cradle, your bed, but oh so cold and hard. The branches above us will croon you a lullaby. Sleep now, sleep tight my child! You are close to my loving, ever loving heart. I love you dearly but I’m helpless, I cannot save you from death, my child, I cannot save you. You just sleep tight now my angel! You cannot know the horror of what awaits us. We’ll die together, Ill be in your thoughts when the moment comes, to soothe you. And then our pain and suffering will cease, our struggle will end. We’ll journey to God together. When I felt you for the first time I sensed your unease. I dreamed of bringing you into God’s presence for the first time, I dreamed of your tiny head wet with baptismal water. But, now, sweet child, it will be my blood pouring down your forehead. With your mother’s blood, pulsing with love, you’ll be baptized. I watched you bow before Christ in the Eucharist.My body will be a ciborium soon. You, my child, will be a host in it. From the ciborium a loving hand will pluck you and embed you in its sacred heart…

Then, my child, I will see you for the first time.My gentle angel! There I will see your face. There, you’ll see your mother for the first time and learn your first word: ‘Mama!’

Ivanka Skrabec was born in 1915 in the village of Hrovaci, near the town of Ribnica. Her father was Stanislav Skrabec (January 7, 1844 – October 6, 1918), a renowned Franciscan monk and a linguist specialized in the Slovenian language. In the fall of 1939 Ivanka started working as a teacher in the village of Sodraiica. The children took to her right away. She was selfless, devoted to her profession and always placed the interest of the children before everything. If some of the children could not attend school or were sick, she would go to their houses and teach them there. The children’s parents adored her and respected her for her unflinching devotion to the children.

Some remains of female victims
of communist crimes at Huda Pit

On the evening of May 28, 1942, the Partisans arrested Ivanka. They beat her up badly and then ceremoniously marched her to the village square where she was publically interrogated by a number of Commissars. The Commissars berated her for teaching her pupils that war was evil and accused her of not expressing support for the Communist movement. They told her that one of her crimes was the fact that she was married to France Novak, who had been conscripted into the Slovene Home Guard. As such he was an enemy of the revolution. The Commissars informed her that her husband had been sentenced to death in absentia by a Communist court and wanted to know his whereabouts. The aim of the Partisans was to publically mock and humiliate Ivanka.
After the interrogation and public humiliation the Commissars led Ivanka to her home. They placed her under house arrest and posted guards around the house. A bounty of 5,000 Italian Lire was put on her husband’s head.

On June 3, 1942, a number of Partisans came to Ivanka’s house. They beat her with such force that her blood splattered the walls of the room. Then the Partisans dragged her, all bloody and bruised, to their camp. Ivanka would never set foot into her house again.
The executioners led Ivanka to a clearing in the forest. They gave her a shovel and ordered her to dig her own grave. She begged them to let her live until her baby was born. The unborn baby was her joy: she loved her husband very much and the couple had planned to lavish the baby with a lot of love and affection. Her tormentors ignored her desperate pleas for the life of her child. They told her to shut up, stop crying and keep digging.
When she had dug the grave the Partisans strangled her. It was an act of pure bloodthirsty sadism. The degenerate commander of the execution party exclaimed, ‘This cunt is not worth a bullet!’ The killers threw Ivanka into the hole, placed her coat over her dead body and filled the hole again with the upturned soil.
Ivanka was dead. She died at the hands of ‘national liberators’.

Her body was found on August 4, 1942. The owner of that plot of land saw a piece of clothing protruding from the turf. After a few minutes of digging he saw Ivanka’s mutilated body. In the breast pocket of her blouse he found a pen and a half destroyed letter. Ivanka, knowing that the Partisans were going to kill her, had written that letter in her room. She had written it to her unborn baby. The letter reveals her anguish of knowing that her unborn child was going to be murdered. The letter is a shocking testimony to man’s cruelty to man and all people of good will ought to read it. All people with murder in their hearts should also read it because the letter possesses the power to cure those hearts, or at least prevent them from following Cain’s example.

When I read Ivanka’s letter I knew I would never be afraid to think for myself and challenge the official, Communist version of history. I started my research. At that time archival material was out of bounds. It was too dangerous for the Yugoslav authorities to allow the general public access to the documents stored in the archives because all the documents pertaining to WWII and Communist rule in general clearly reveal the criminality of the Communist regime. I had to rely on witness accounts. I simply went from door to door, asking questions. Most people, after hearing my questions and the purpose behind them, went pale and shut the door in my face. Others entreated me not to ask them such questions. Some threatened to report me to the police. I was actually arrested, in LaSko, in front of the entrance to the Huda Jama mine. I spent that night in a cell in the police station in LaSko. I was not intimidated. The very next morning I continued exploring the area and asking questions.

I decided to modify my strategy a bit. I remembered many of my childhood friends from the near-by village of Store. I had gone to primary school there and everybody in the village knew me. I asked my childhood friends to talk to their parents and grandparents about what had happened in the area after the end of WWII. The next day they kindly asked me not to speak to them ever again. I was not discouraged though. I persevered in my quest. In the fall of that year my father and I discovered human bones, buried no more than 20 centimeters underground, in Kosnica. We took a picture of the bones. That picture is the first picture ever taken of the remains of victims of Communist crimes in the area…

Thank you, St. Anne, for the courage you have given me. Thank you, Ivanka Skrabec.Thank you, unborn child.

The Way of the Cross at St. Anne’s Church would today only be known to Celje’s pilgrims had it not been for the gruesome events that happened there after the end of WWII – when brother attacked brother – and when Cain’s sin marked our people with bitterness and etched itself forever into our history): A few hundred meters below the Way of the Cross the Partisans built a concentration camp for “enemies of the revolution” in May 1945. Most captives did not make out of the camp alive and in that sense the Way of the Cross became their Calvary. Communism, just like Nazism, was predicated on killing its enemies. The enemies were occasionally real, frequently imagined. The Partisans brutally tortured and killed a large number of people in the camp. The survivors recounted how they, while being tortured, heard the tolling of the church’s bell and found solace in the chimes. Older villagers remember hearing loud prayers emanating from the camp at night.
It took 20 years for the truth about Huda Jama to become known. The second part of the book describes how we, over the course of several months, day in and day out, dug through the pits. In 2009 Huda Jama finally revealed the whole truth in all its gory details. Marko Strovs played a pivotal role in the process. I used his text for that portion of the book.

In the last part of the book I give the names of those responsible for the massacre in Huda Jama. The fact that the perpetrators of the atrocity have not been called to account for their crimes clearly shows that we are not a nation yet, that we do not deserve a state of our own. We have not even given a proper and dignified burial to the victims in Huda Jama.
No one has yet been formally accused of the crimes I describe in my book. Most of the perpetrators are old men today, living comfortably on their Veteran’s pensions. Not only did the Communists bestially tortured and murdered the victims, they also confiscated their property and moved into the victims’ homes. It is important to note that Veteran’s pensions are among the highest in the pension scheme.
Dear Croatians, wherever in the world this book may find you! Dear people of good will everywhere! After 70 years we are still fighting for the truth. Please, let us persevere in this fight. God is on our side. We owe it to our children…”

Among the people I have so far met in my life who touched me with the fresh and delightful air of truth, however gruesome and disturbing the content of that truth may be, and groundbreaking persistence for good, is Roman Leljak. Having attended a number of his talks and book promotions on facts of communist crimes, I am left both gratefully delighted and painfully shattered – delighted that the truth is being exposed, shattered that it has not yet brought full justice for the victims of communist crimes. The battle for truth and justice continues…and in the meantime, I trust many will obtain and read Roman Leljak’s book “Buried Alive” and join the battle … Ina Vukic


Roman Leljak and Ina Vukic, 2017

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